Category: Sermons

Neighbours or not?

 The Parable of the Good Samaritan

Sermon St Mary the Virgin, Marlborough, 14th July 2019 10am
Fourth Sunday after Trinity: Colossians 1.1-14, Luke 10.25-37

It’s a very familiar story we hear this morning, the parable of the Good Samaritan, and maybe too familiar to really appreciate the ways in which it tries to provoke. Jesus uses the story as a reply to a lawyer wanting to test him and to justify himself by asking the question ‘Who is my neighbour?’ On one level, the story speaks for itself by conveying a truth we all know instinctively: being a good person depends on what you do, not on your religion or status. We all should act as the Samaritan did, looking out for those in need, no matter who or where they are.

good samaritanRecently, I watched the film ‘My name is Khan’, a moving film around religious divisions as well as human goodness. An autistic Muslim man seeks to meet the president of the United States after his stepson is killed in the wake of 9/11. Encountering a range of people as he travels, he holds on to the truth told he was told as a child by his mother: there are only two types of people, those who are good and those who are bad.

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The mission of the seventy

Sermon St Mary the Virgin, Bishops Cannings, 7th July 2019 10am
Third Sunday after Trinity: Galatians 6.1-16, Luke 10.1-11,16-20

seventyToday’s Gospel reading from Luke speaks about the mission of the seventy, or the seventy-two, depending on which sets of manuscripts are to be believed. The  precise number doesn’t matter theologically, as both indicate an expanded scope from the mission of the twelve disciples, which is recorded by Matthew and Mark, as well as by Luke.

Through the text we are invited to reflect on the wider mission of the Church, and our own particular role within that. Of course, our situation now in 2019 is very different from the time and place in which Jesus lived and worked, so we need to be careful to look at this passage too literally. However, there are a few key themes which apply to us as much as to the seventy-two who Jesus sent out in Luke’s Gospel.

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Freedom

A homily for the Second Sunday after Trinity
Galatians 5.1, 13-25 & Luke 9.51-62

freedomThis last weekend of June is traditionally the time at which ordinations take place, as on 29th June the Feast of St Peter and St Paul is celebrated, two of the earliest followers of Christ. In cathedrals across the world, people are committing their lives to a diaconal or priestly ministry, promising before God and others to serve the Church in this particular way. Ordinations are a public commitment to a certain way of life, of discipleship, in a similar way to confirmation and baptism, as well as weddings. What all these services have in common, I think, is that they give everyone an opportunity to celebrate, as well as to reflect on our own unique calling, expressed through the commitments we ourselves have made at various times in our lives.

There are many different ways in which we can think of our own discipleship, often without using that word itself. This morning I would like to focus on one particular aspect, which is also mentioned in our reading from Paul’s letter to the Galatians, and that is our freedom in Christ. Making a commitment seems almost the diametrical opposite of being free, but I would like to suggest that in reality our commitment to God is what enables us to embrace our freedom.

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Caving or Chapel?

A sermon for Trinity Sunday
Marlborough College Chapel, 16th June 2019

cavingIn the Church year, today, the Sunday after Pencecost is known as Trinity Sunday. So, obviously, I have spent most of Shell OA week [a week of outdoor activities in the Brecon Beacons] not thinking about my wet feet, or my wet sleeping bag, or how to make the best hot chocolate for the New Court Shell, but about the best, least boring, way to explain the Trinity this morning. Thus, in the middle of the caves on Thursday, again water-soaked, I realised that maybe there is a comparison to be made between going to Chapel and caving. Hence, as Mr Clark still seems to be employed after comparing Pentecost to Love Island last week, I decided to take the risk. But more about that a bit later.

The Trinity, the belief that God is Father, Son and Holy Spirit, yet one God, is possibly the most complicated concept of Christianity. Hence, most Christians theologians agree that it is impossible to fully comprehend it, just as it is impossible to fully comprehend God himself. Of course, those sceptical of Christianity may reply that the fact that the concept of the Trinity defies logic is of itself proof that God cannot, and therefore does not exist. Followers of other monotheistic religions accuse Christianity of heresy by claiming that God is three persons in one.

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Speak love; hear truth

A homily for the Feast of Pentecost: Acts 2.1-21 & John 14.8-17

It’s the Feast of Pentecost, and not surprisingly we hear this morning the remarkable reading from the Acts of the Apostles. The disciples are filled with the Holy Spirit, and they begin to speak in other languages. Of course, those who hear the noise are bewildered, and they go and see what has happened. To their astonishment, each one of them hears the disciples speaking in their own native language, and telling them about God’s deeds of power.

pentecost

Although on some level, this means that everyone is able to understand what the disciples are saying, not everyone does fully comprehend: some sneer and accuse Jesus’ followers of being drunk. This raises the question about which I would briefly like to think this morning: “what do we need to understand?” From our reading we gather that being addressed in our native tongue alone is not enough, so what else do we need? To answer this question, I would like to look at our reading this morning in two metaphorical ways, two additional layers of meaning without intending to deny the reading of the events as historical. Continue reading “Speak love; hear truth”

Thy Kingdom Come 2019

Sermon St Mary’s Marlborough, 2nd June 2019
Sunday between Ascension and Pentecost

tkcThis year is the third year in which Churches throughout the world are joining in an initiative called ‘Thy Kingdom Come’. It started in 2016 as an invitation from the Archbishops of Canterbury and York to use the eleven days between Ascension Day and Pentecost as a time to renew our commitment to prayer. Since then, the initiative has grown into a worldwide, ecumenical movement with Churches from over 65 different denominations in 114 countries around the world. One can wonder of course if it is a good thing to even have 65 different denominations, but it shows the scale of the movement.

Traditionally, Christians have focussed on the renewal of prayer during the time between Ascension and Pentecost, following the example of the first disciples. As it is written in the first chapter of the book of Acts: [After the Ascension, the disciples] “were constantly devoting themselves to prayer, together with certain women, including Mary the mother of Jesus, as well as his brothers.” Prayer has been at the heart of the Christian Church since the earliest days.

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“I do not give to you as the world gives”

Sermon St George’s Preshute, 26th May 2019
Sixth Sunday of Easter: Acts 16.9-15 & John14.23-29

The Easter season is drawing to an end, with Ascension Day this coming Thursday and Pentecost ten days later. Our readings this morning invite us to start moving our focus from the celebration of the Resurrection to the reality of living in the knowledge of that Resurrection; the reality of living the life of faith, both as individuals and as a Christian community. He, I would like to reflect on what this may look like for us today. As we do so, our focus will be on the unexpectedness of God’s gifts to us. As Jesus reminded his disciples: God does not give to us as the world gives.

last supper.jpg

We have already seen in our readings over the last few weeks from the Acts of the Apostles, that the life of the early Church was not always easy, but punctuated by moments of grace and hope, unexpected conversions of individuals, such as Lydia this morning, and unexpected moments of insight of what it means to be a body of believers, such as Peter’s vision to include the Gentiles last week. Continue reading ““I do not give to you as the world gives””